Review – This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • Writing - 10/10
  • Development - 9.5/10
  • Overall - 9.75/10
User Review
0 (0 votes)


Authors: Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
Format: Paperback
Pages: 208
Book Description:
“Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

And thus begins and unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.

Except discovery of their bond would be death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?”

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a romantic science fiction novella like you’ve never seen before. Written by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone, this novel transcends time and space – literally. The tale is of two time traveling agents.

Red and Blue are two agents working for different sides of the war. They’ve come up against each other for years; enjoying the competition and drive towards winning against the other. That is, until something changed. One letter started a chain of events, until their lives were changed forever.

I can honestly tell you that this novella was like nothing I’ve ever read before. It was beautiful and poetic, and every element of the story just felt so organic. I was enchanted from the first letter.


This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a collaboration between Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone. And let’s just say that I sincerely hope we see more work from these two, because this was a memorable novella. I really do mean it when I say I’ve never read anything like it. Sure, I’ve seen some of these elements here and there, but never in such a combination as this.

The story was told through the use of several types of storytelling techniques. It was an interesting yet effective combination. There were perspective shifts – Red and Blue. But there were also letters. These letters flowed like poetry. They allowed for an organic relationship to develop over time. One that didn’t feel forced and very much felt real and alive.

There were many other elements woven into this novella as well. As the title indicates, there was a heavy science fiction element. Our two agents were quite literally agents who utilized time travel for their battles. But perhaps not in the way you would expect. It was a unique view of things, if nothing else.

The battle between opposites was a prevalent theme in this novel. Red fighting against Blue. Technology fighting nature. Hate fighting love. It all kept weaving together into this one massive tangle – one that our two leading characters were forced to figure out.


This Is How You Lose the Time War may have had a lot of complex themes woven into it. But it was all told in such an organic and believable manner. In many ways, the battle is one that we’re all familiar with – leaving us feeling like we’ve been reading this tale for years.

Red and Blue were fascinating characters. At a glance, they appear to be perfect examples of their archetypes, but upon a closer look, their deviations and differences were more pronounced. It’s no wonder these two were constantly drawn towards one another.

The relationship between these two felt almost as natural as breathing. It progressed in steps here and there, feeling wholly organic the full way. Many times we’ve seen this tale told with a heavy-handed approach, but that was not the case here. It was oddly refreshing.

There were several twists and turns to this novella. Yet, they made complete and utter sense, even at the moment of revelation. It was almost like we were waiting for that next twist to occur. It was all brilliantly done.


This Is How You Lose the Time War has got to be one of the most unique novellas I’ve read in recent time. And not just because it’s a collaboration, though that may be part of it. It combined so many elements in order to make a truly original telling. Something that has never been seen before. At least, not by me.

My biggest regret about this novella is that it’s over. And I find myself hoping that we’ll see more from Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone in the future. Not that I’d have any clue what they’d write next.

For more Word of the Nerd book news, reviews, and reading lists, click here.

Social Media logo PatreonFollow Word of the Nerd on


Bringing out YOUR inner nerd!

About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

  • New CBC bonus gifts-2
  • NoD_Black_Tall.png-e1582139137446.png
  • 300x250
  • Free Domestic Shipping Over $80 120x600
  • Metallica The Master Collection Banners
  • Shop Custom Removable Vinyls from Fathead! Turn your photos into professional prints, decals, & murals - Click Here!

Check out our YouTube Channel

%d bloggers like this: